Millions of Americans in at least 31 U.S. cities could be drinking tap water contaminated with the harmful chemical hexavalent chromium, according to a report released Monday by the non-profit Environmental Working Group.
While the dangerous carcinogen, otherwise known as chromium-6, may sound foreign to most people, perhaps the name Erin Brockovich will ring a bell.
After chromium-6 was discovered in the water supply of Hinkley, California, Brockovich helped bring about a lawsuit that ultimately ended in 1996 with the utility company, Pacific Gas & Electric, paying more than $330 million in damages. Norman, Oklahoma; Honolulu, Hawaii; and Riverside, California, top the non-profit organization’s list of cities with water supplies contaminated by chromium-6.
Although the Environmental Protection Agency does not require water utilities to test for chromium-6, and has not established a legal threshold for how much can be in our water, the agency has classified the toxin as “likely to be carcinogenic to humans.”